Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Mobile operator MTN plans to roll out a multipurpose app akin to Tencent’s WeChat in the coming months, CEO Rob Shuter said on Thursday.

“We’ve built an instant-messaging platform that will be integrated with mobile money to form the first step of what we call the ‘African WeChat’, Shuter said.

The instant-messaging platform would be launched in two markets “in the next month or so”.

China’s ubiquitous WeChat app, a prized asset of Naspers associate Tencent, is a messaging, social media and payments app with more than 1-billion active users.

Shuter said MTN would soon launch mobile-money services — already live in 14 of its markets — in SA, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Sudan.

“And we’ll continue to extend our advanced services like insurance and lending,” Shuter said.

He told Business Day recently that digital financial services companies tended to trade at far higher multiples than traditional telecom companies.

“Look at Tencent or WeChat — digital financial services players are not trading at six-times earnings like our industry; these are 10-to 20-times businesses.

“Mobile money can be a $1-$1.50 arpu [average revenue per user] industry. For us, it’s possible to get every market to 20% of revenue from mobile money, which has similar margins and almost no capital expenditure.”

He also said on Thursday that MTN would launch its music-streaming service across its portfolio of 21 markets by July.